I love enumeratio poetry! I decided just to have fun with this, and made a numbered list in response to the prompt. As an aside, here: I have been writing (and referring to) survival lists/guides ever since I started journaling sometime in the early sixties, while I still was in high school. As I finished each journal, I would copy my list into the new one, go through the old one to pull out the “creative writing” pages, and then shred or burn the old journal. I quit doing paper journals around beginning of this century.
Write yourself a survival guide as a list poem: What are the things you need to know to survive? What should you have known? What do you need to remember? What do you know that only you can tell yourself? What items do you need? What actions do you need to take? [Sarah Tatro, Poetry Super Highway]
Survival Guide: Things I decided, at one time or another, that I knew
and needed to remember
(a recent edition)
1. Nobody knows the answers. Everyone is making it up as they go along.
2. It’s better to screw up making your own mistakes than making someone else’s.
3. Make a list of what you know and, if possible, why you think you know it. Then make decisions on the basis of that list, not on what you want to be real, when you’re going crazy.
4. God understands your messes, and they don’t bother Him. He doesn’t confuse them with what or who you are, and neither should you.
5. Gain or loss, pleasure or pain, discovery or routine, sickness or health, friends or isolation, life or death. There are no guarantees or promises concerning these, life’s incidentals. And, they don’t count.
6. You are not alone. You are always loved. You are loved and valued neither more nor less than any and every other living being in creation. You are cared for. Always. No matter what.
7. Act justly, observe appropriate opportunities to perform acts of loving kindness, walk discretely with God, and with everyone else. As one among all the others.
8. We are all equally responsible. God is the One who’s capable.
9. You will never come to the end of things you do not know, or, knowing, things you do not understand. That’s not in your job description. You are responsible to give and receive love.
10. You have a profound purpose in life. You achieved it sometime before you turned twenty (or 10 … or whenever), and you’ll never know what it was. Everything since then has been gravy.*
We did him no favors, keeping him alive beyond his time. All alone, now, safe from any germ or poison or dirt or grass or fresh, cold air and sun of an autumn morning, rays of light that caress, not treetops, now, but barren ground. It would be a kindness if keepers let him sleep one last time and let him never wake again. Or join him in that cage of glass that keeps him far away and yet so near to gentle touches, fingers running through his fur. Whisper sweet words of not-aloneness in his ear. The last animal on Earth that is not human lies dying. Do not let him die alone.
I remember our first poetry-writing assignment; it was in fifth grade, the same year we took the Iowa Basic Skills test in our elementary school. I discovered a paper copy in a stack of papers tucked away in a filing cabinet. Our town librarian, when she discovered that I liked science fiction novels, made sure that I got a look at every one that came into our village library. The Stars Are Ours had quite an impact on me. There was a sequel by Andre Norton in my future, and I enjoyed that book, too.
“The Far Voyage”
By Elizabeth “Lizl” Bennefeld
Inspired by Andre Norton’s The Stars Are Ours (1954)
At rest at last upon a foreign soil
that never knew the step of man before.
beneath the rocket’s fins,
red sand and rock stretch forth
to undergird bright, glistening azure seas.
Beyond their landing place,
up gentle, rolling hills,
far travelers, lost refugees
from Earth’s perpetual wars,
survey vast, untouched fields of grain,
their purple tassels swaying in a breeze
that also brushes golden fruit,
which hangs, sun ripened,
from the bordering trees.
A welcome haven, this new world,
to shelter those who fled in fear
before the waves of senseless hate
for all that’s different,
those who would not bow
to serve untruth or cruelty.
With gathered driftwood,
fires are lit beside a newfound sea,
to warm the bodies and the hearts
of those who now are free.
And as the night descends,
moons race across the sky.
And, one by one, new stars appear
in constellations that will light
new nights, new hopes, new dreams.
Before their weary eyes,
new shapes they seem to see-
a lamb, a dove, an olive-sprig wreath,
all signs of eternal peace.
Are they the promise of a new beginning,
or just a cruel mockery?